Gendered Violence in the Turkish Media
Head of project: Dr Åsa Eldén
During the last few years, the Turkish media has been an arena for extensive visibility of gendered violence, particularly in the form of men’s violence against women. This issue, often discussed through specific cases of murders of women, has not only occurred in the media as news, but also as an issue of heated and repeated discussions.The background of this visibility lies in a long history of Turkish feminist/women’s movement’s struggle. Since the starting point of modern Turkish feminism, by many placed in a demonstration in Kadiköy, Istanbul, in 1987 against a court decision using a proverb as en extenuating circumstance in a case of abuse, men’s violence against women has been at the core of its demands, campaigns and writings. Recently other forms of gendered violence, such as hate crimes against lgbt-persons, has also been brought up on the public agenda, again due to activists’ efforts.
In the project Gendered Violence in the Turkish Media, this context is in focus. The overall aim is to study the understanding of gendered violence in the media in Turkey, and among the concrete research questions are: Is it possible to identify different understandings of gendered violence, and if so do they follow e. g. political and/or religious positions? How are different understandings valued in the media? Do media representations of gendered violence connect this phenomenon to other forms of violence and oppression? Who are involved in the media discussions, how are they valued and what are their different positions?
The answers to these questions are searched along two lines: a) how the “printed” media (including some websites) talks about violence against women and lgbt-persons, and b) the interaction between different actors, taking place in media discussions about this violence.A crucial aspect of this is the Turkish women’s and lgbt movement’s response to and influence of the representations of gendered violence (re)produced through the media, but also how politicians interact with the media (and other actors through the media), and how the media itself function as an actor. Thus the media is first and foremost seen as a crucial arena for interaction and (re) shaping of different understandings of gendered violence. The project has an ethnographic approach and uses a variety of qualitative methods. A systematic collection of printed news material is analysed along with interviews with journalists, columnists and activists, and participation in public events.
The project’s theoretical ambition is to develop a cultural understanding of the relation between gender, power and the media in Turkey, with a specific focus on how gendered violence is connected to a creation of contrasts, in a process of “otherisation”. In analysing “texts”, they are interpreted as communicative acts which in order to be meaningful must be understood in the context in which they appear. The focus is not a phenomenon per se, but its representations, and an ambition is to look at assumptions in competing interpretations which opens up for making gaps and silences visible. Thus when analysing representations of gendered violence in the media in Turkey, both what is said and what is not said is relevant.
Feminists protesting in front of the newspaper and TV-channel
Habertürk in Istanbul, October 2011. Photo: Åsa Eldén
Relevant presentations and publications
“Parameters of violent visibility. Media discussions about gendered violence in Turkey” (with Berna Ekal) Paper presented at the conference Gender/Violence, Izmir University of Economics, 4-6 April, 2012.
”Murders of women as an issue of public discussion in Turkey” (with Berna Ekal) Paper presented in the seminar series Media and Power. Critical Perspectives on Turkey at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, December 13, 2011.
“Medyada toplumsal cinsiyet temelli siddet: Isveç ve Türkiye örnekleri” (”Gendered violence in the media: Swedish and Turkish examples”) (with Berna Ekal) Paper presented at 14. Siginaklar ve danisma/dayanisma merkezleri kurultayi, Nevsehsir November 19, 2011.
“Rykten och tystnad. Berättelser om sexuellt våld i turkiska och svenska media” (2011) Dragomanen 13/2011. (in Swedish)
“Men’s Violence – Women’s Responsibility. Mothers’ Stories about Honour Violence” (2010) Idris, Mohammed Mazher& Abbas Tahir (ed) Honour and Violence, London: Routhledge.
“Life-and-death Honour. Young Women’s Violent Stories about Reputation, Virginity and Honour in a Swedish Context“ in Violence in the Name of Honour. Theoretical and Political Challenges (2004) ed Sharazad Mojab and Nahla Abdo, Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press.
“Hederns försvarare. Den rättsliga hanteringen av ett hedersmord” (2004) (with Jenny Westerstrand) Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift no 3 2004. (in Swedish)
Heder på liv och död. Våldsamma berättelser om rykten, oskuld och heder.(Life-and-death Honour. Violent Stories about Reputation, Virginity and Honour) Uppsala University, Uppsala 2003 (in Swedish with an English summary)
“’Om hon lever, vill människor se mer och mer’. Rykten, splittrad kvinnlighet och heder bland svenska kvinnor från Mellanöstern” (2001) Sociologisk forskning 3-4 2001. (in Swedish)
“The killing seemed to be necessary' Arab cultural affiliation as an extenuating circumstance in a Swedish verdict”(1998) Nordic Journal for Women´s Studies no. 2, vol. 6, 1998